Engine Works Blog

Under the hood of Alteryx: tips, tricks and how-tos.

Ok, so that's a bit much.


But the new Browse tool in Alteryx 4.1 is almost (almost!) that cool.


The first thing to note is that there is now just one Browse tool, which replaces both of the previous Browse Data and Browse Map tools. Don't worry, though. Any older modules you have which used the older tools will automatically update to use the new unified tool.


The next thing to note is that the new tool integrates both types of viewers (table and map) in one tool, so you can see your data in whichever form you prefer:

As you can see, you can easily view your data in whatever form you like. But what's even cooler is that you can select data in either view, and the same data is selected in the other view as well! Ever wonder what that one outlier polygon or point was? Just click on it on the map, and you'll be taken directly to the corresponding record in the table. You'll wonder how you ever got along without it.


Next up is the report view. The reporting tools we added in Alteryx 4.0 make report creation much, much easier. But it can still be a bit of a challenge debugging complex reports. If only there was a way to examine the snippets as they are being created, instead of having to constantly hang a temporary render tool out there.


With the new Browse tool, you can view your report snippets inside Alteryx. The report view takes your snippets, ten records at a time, and "mini-renders" them on the fly. Want to make sure that Map tool is configured properly, or that your Table has its styles set up the way you want? It's easy with the new Browse. You'll notice that your table view is no longer cluttered with gigantic cells of PCXML data. Instead you'll see the type of snippet, in blue italic text. Don't worry, though, you'll still be able to see the PCXML if you like. Selection works in the report view, too:


But what are those funny red triangles? Well, those are there to tell you that there is something odd going on in your data.


How many times have you had to debug a module because your data "looked" correct, but just didn't behave the way you expected? Was it because of hidden whitespace? Embedded tabs or newlines? Those magic red triangles are there to warn you that something is amiss:


By simply placing the mouse over the cell, a tooltip will pop up to tell you what is going on. You can try this yourself, by simply double clicking on the PetStoresLocations.yxdb in the Alteryx4.1\RuntimeData\Samples\SampleData folder. Even we didn't know there was something odd in that file, until we were visited by the magic red triangle fairy.


Even with this handy little feature, all too often your data just doesn't fit neatly in those little table cells. That's why we added the new Cell Viewer feature. Just pop it open (it's on the toolbar), and you'll be able to scroll around your data with ease:



That button with the paragraph symbol handily makes all the whitespace in your data visible, too. But the Cell Viewer isn't just for taking a closer look at your string data. It is also handy for looking at the PCXML behind your report snippets as well as the details of your spatial objects:

Finally, there are two more features I have to tell you about. The first is that you can now open up a new browse window that only contains your selected records. This is an amazingly easy way to take a large amount of spatial data, and chop out just the pieces you want to examine more closely. Just select them on the map, go to the table view, and export the selection to disk.


If the data you want to examine has no spatial fields in it, you can save yourself yet another step. When you copy your selection to the clipboard (in the table view), you also get a free Text Input tool as well. Just right-click on your module (or a new module), hit paste, and you'll get a shiny new Text Input tool preloaded with the data you selected in the Browse. How cool is that?


Well, I could go on, but that should be enough temptation for now. Once you try out the new Browse tool, your whole world will look a little brighter and happier. I guarantee* it.


*Guarantee consists solely of my personal apology at next year's <a href="/events/inspire">conference</a>.</p>